In the early days of the area, local Indians would come down from the hill country to plant corn in the fertile valleys of the Helotes area. Following the annual harvest, there was a time of great merriment and feasting before the Indians returned to their homeland in the surrounding hills. The Indians celebrated with a feast of spring corn after the tribal medicine man declared the corn ripe and ready to be eaten.
The name “Helotes” stems from the Mexican/Central American Spanish word for stalk corn or corn on the cob, “elote”. Since the 1800s, and recently as the early 1950s, feed corn was a major farming crop in northwest Bexar County and South Texas. Helotes and the Cornyval are a tribute to the area’s heritage. The harvest during this historic era is celebrated annually in Helotes during the spring.
The first Helotes Cornyval was held in 1966 to celebrate the building of the new local post office and was primarily financed by the late John T. Floore, founder of Floore’s Country Store which still operates in downtown Helotes.
The event was a huge success and has continued throughout the years as a fund-raiser for participating local non-profit organizations. Among those who have benefited, either from sales at their own booths or from profits distributed by the Helotes Festival Association, are the Helotes Lions and Lioness chapters, all area churches, the Helotes 4-H Club, the Masons, Order of the Eastern Star, Casa Helotes Senior Citizens Center, the Helotes Police Department, the Helotes and Grey Forest Volunteer Fire Departments, the Helotes Optimist Club, O’Connor High School Drama, O’Connor High School FFA as well as the Helotes Historical Society and booster clubs from area schools.
In 1989 the Helotes Festival Association entered into a purchase contract on a 15-acre permanent site for Cornyval, which is located on Leslie Road, three-tenths of a mile from Highway 16 (Bandera Road). In 1996 the Helotes Festival Association purchased an additional 9 acres. In the later part of 1997, the Helotes Festival Association purchased additional acreage bringing the Cornyval site to 44.2 beautiful tree-covered acres.
The festivals growing popularity and ever-increasing crowds — around 75,000 in recent years — were major factors in obtaining a larger site. Work continues on the grounds each year. Volunteer planners have taken their time in designing the facilities to best use the area. A covered pavilion and dance area, rodeo arena with box seats, permanent restrooms, and an office building has been added. Permanent booths have been added for ticket sales and local non-profits to use. Plans for other improvements throughout the park are in the making.
In addition to the Miss Helotes pageant, the Helotes Cornyval combines four days of food, dancing, music, rodeo, arts and crafts, carnival, and contest.
The Festival Grounds are now available for rentals throughout the year by various organizations.
Come out and enjoy our events.
David Gray, President HFA
For information regarding the HFA and our facilities
call the Festival Office (210)695-2103
or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org